26th April 2020

Continuing in the season of Easter, today’s reading focusses on yet another encounter with the risen Jesus, this time as two men are walking on the road to Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, talking with each other about everything that had happened.  (To read the full story look up Luke 24:13-35.)  No wonder really.  The events of the crucifixion and word of Jesus’ resurrection was certainly newsworthy.  I wonder how long it would have been headline news today.  

Events such as those that had just happened in Jerusalem were newsworthy because what people made of them would change their lives for ever.  I can just imagine the conversation between these two men as they travelled on the road.  They had known Jesus.  They had heard his teaching first-hand.  They thought he was the one who was going to save them, “the one who was going to redeem Israel.”  Yet the chief priests and rulers had handed him over to be crucified and he had died an excruciatingly painful death on a cross.  Now, they were puzzling over the news brought to them by some of their women, that the tomb was empty and that they had seen the risen Jesus, very much alive.

This whole story speaks to me about the difference between head knowledge and heart knowledge.  These men knew what Jesus had taught them, but their heart was telling them that the teaching could not be right.  Jesus was to be their redeemer, but how could a dead man save them.  And even more so, how could someone who was dead suddenly come back to life?

This is the puzzle of the resurrection we all face, although for us it is the reverse.  Logic tells us it is not possible for a dead man to rise again, especially after three days.  Head Knowledge determines what is and is not possible, yet for those who believe in a risen Jesus, heart knowledge tells us otherwise.

On the journey to Emmaus, another man joined the two men on the road.  He had asked them about their conversation and after rebuking them, the stranger went on to repeat all that Jesus had taught them, reminding them what had been said about him.  This man spoke with a similar authority to that which they had known in Jesus, but still they did not recognise him.  It wasn’t until evening and they sat down together to break bread that the two men suddenly realised that it was Jesus himself who was with them, the risen Jesus, and then he was gone.  He was gone, but their hearts were on fire and filled with the knowledge that Jesus really had risen from the dead and they rushed to tell the others.

There are a couple of things to note in this story.  Firstly, the men had spent a significant amount of time in Jesus; company before they recognised him.  Spending time in the company of someone who was willing to listen to them and help them understand what had happened had deepened their desire to know more, to hear more, to learn more.  And secondly, and arguably most importantly, it wasn’t until the two men invited Jesus to eat with them that Jesus made himself known.  

Basically, what this means for me, is that to get to know Jesus better we have to invite him in.  In the book of Revelation, it is written, “Behold! I stand at the door and knock.  If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.”  Was this not exactly what happened to the men on the road to Emmaus.  They heard a voice, it happened to be Jesus’, they invited him in and he made himself known.

Do you find yourself wanting to know more about this man who lived over to thousand years ago but whose message still seems to have an effect on people today?  Then ask him in?  If you have questions you want to ask of Jesus, ask them.  He is a good listener and ready to share his message of hope.  But be aware that once you recognise him for yourself, your life will be changed for ever.  Things will never quite be the same again.  But you will find in him strength, courage, comfort, indeed, whatever it is that you need to get through these difficult times.

May you find hope in the presence of Jesus, and assurance in the knowledge that he is walking with us still, whether we recognise him or not.

Prayer
Loving Jesus, sometimes we struggle to make sense of your resurrection because it defies all human logic.  But faith has never really been about logic, your ministry taught us that.  Your logic is one rooted in love, the love God has for each and every one of us.  May those who are seeking you today have the courage to invite you in.  
We thank you for your presence in the kindness of strangers, in the caring hands of doctors and nurses, in the diligence of ancillary staff, and all other key workers, without whom the rest of us would be lost.
We thank you for walking with us, even when we do not recognise you, and ray that our eyes will be opened to the wonder of your love at work in even the most darkest of situations.
May we let your Spirit guide us in your ways, that with patience, perseverance, courage and compassion, your will be done using even us, frail and faltering in faith though we may be, for you are our God, and in you we have hope for all eternity.  Amen

To listen to “There is a Hope” by Stuart Townend please click on the link below.

There is a hope